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Chapter Ten
Christmas Celebrations

Two days before the start of the Christmas holidays found the entire population of Hogwarts on the quidditch pitch for the first match of the year: Hufflepuff vs. Gryffindor.  Hogwarts had a new commentator that year, as Timothy Jordan had graduated the year before.  Robert Black, despite being a first year, had taken over the position.  His squeaky voice rang out through the stadium as the teams came onto the pitch.  

“ And here come the Gryffindors!  New Keeper Wood leads the team for a warm up lap of the pitch as the Hufflepuffs emerge from the changing rooms.  Both teams have new team members this year, so it will be interesting to see how well they work together.  There's Professor Sewell releasing the bludgers and snitch.  AND THERE GOES THE QUAFFLE!”

Harry hovered above the pitch with his beater's bat in his hand.  It would take a while to get used to his new position on the team.  He had to make sure he didn't accidentally go for the snitch.  Seeing a bludger heading for one of the Hufflepuff Chasers, he quickly looked around for the Gryffindor Seeker.  As soon as he located her, he flew down and intercepted the bludger, sending it smashing into the girl's chest, knocking her from her broom.  The opposing team quickly called a time out while their Seeker was levitated off to the hospital wing.  Harry could hear the booing of the Gryffindors and the cheering of the Hufflepuffs as he flew over the stands, looking for his next victim.

Twenty minutes later he was starting to thoroughly enjoy himself.  While not as exciting as the Seeker position, being a Beater was fun in its own way.  Since the start of the game, he alone had managed to take out the opposing team's Seeker, Keeper and one Chaser.  Ron, being reserve Keeper, had been pleased as he had gotten a chance to play, but as they didn't have any reserve Chasers or Seekers, they were still left two people down.  The difference was really starting to show as Hufflepuff scored another goal.

“ And that's another goal to Hufflepuff!  The score stands at 60 - 20 to Hufflepuff House.  New Beater Harry Evans certainly seems to be making an impression.  COME ON GRYFFINDOR, KNOCK THEM DEAD!”


“ Sorry, Professor.”

Sounds of Robert being berated by Alastor Moody could be heard drifting from the teacher's box.  Harry didn't hear them, though, as he was nearly knocked from his broom by a diving Seeker.  Moments later the sixth year came flying back up, snitch neatly clasped in his outstretched hand.

“ It's a Hufflepuff victory.  Bones has the snitch,” the defeated voice of Robert floated over the cheering crowd.  

Harry started to head for the ground, before leaping off his broom and rushing over to congratulate the rest of his team.  On his way across the pitch, he noticed a figure stood under the Ravenclaw stands, watching from a distance.  He made his way over, a large grin on his face.

“ Did you enjoy the match, `Tea?”

“ I sure did.  I really miss playing, though.  It's frustrating being able to watch, but not play myself.  Especially as it's my quidditch pitch.”

“ Why don't you come back up to the castle?  We'll be having a celebration in the common room.  You could come, I'm sure no-one would mind.  Everyone's used to ghosts by now.”

“ I can't, Harry,” she explained, tears filling her eyes, “ My soul is bound to this place.  I can't leave the quidditch pitch unless my soul is freed.  The problem is, I don't know how to do that.”

“ It's ok, `Tea.  I'll look into it.  I'll get `Mione, Ron and Gin on it too.  We'll have you floating around Hogwarts in no time.”

“ Thanks, Harry.”

“ It's the least I can do.  Anyway, I'll see you later.  The party will be starting, and being a team member, they'll notice if I'm not there.”

“ Go on, Harry, have fun.  I'll see you tomorrow?”

“ Of course!  I always come, don't I?”

“ Yes.”

“ See?  Bye then.”

“ See you.”


The next day found the usual group of friends in the library, sitting around a table at the back.  The time travellers and Minh were trying to figure out where they were going to go for the holidays.  Due to the wars and the recent attack, Dumbledore was closing the school so the students could spend time with their families.  Minh couldn't go home, as Gaerwyn and Lolide were on their trip.  The other four were likewise in trouble.  They didn't have a family to go to.  Luckily, Eustace came out with the perfect suggestion.

“ I got a letter from my parents this morning guys.  My Dad says you five can come over to our house, as you have nowhere else to go.”

The others were rather surprised.  They had not expected to be invited anywhere.

“ Thanks, Eustace, that's great!”

“ S'ok `Mione.  We have space.  We live in an old townhouse in the middle of London.  We can go out to Muggle London in the day, but we'll have to take our gas masks, and be careful we don't get questioned as to why we're there.  Most Muggle children in London have been evacuated to the country.”

“ That'll be fine, I'm sure.  I'll bring my invisibility cloak incase we get cornered.”

“ Wow!  You have an invisibility cloak?”

“ Yeah, I do.”

“ I've always wanted one, but my father would never get one for me.”

Harry looked at him, puzzled.  It had never occurred to him where James Potter had acquired his invisibility cloak, but a thought was starting to form in his head.  Before he could think about it too much, the first years stood up, Minh telling them where they were going.

“ We have double Transfiguration together now, so we have to go.  Enjoy your free period!”

With a wave, the three younger students left the library.  As soon as they were out of the door, Harry pulled a book out of his bag.  It was the snake magic book he had found when he had gone to Knockturn Alley for the amulet book.  Looking at him curiously, it was Ginny who asked the obvious.

“ What's with the book, Harry?”

“ This is my parseltongue book about snake magic.  The one I got the power draining spell from.  I finally finished reading it last night, with a bit of help from Simbi and Nirah.  You'll never believe what I found.”

“ What?”

“ Go on.”

“ Tell us.”

“ I found a small chapter near the back that was written in what I thought was a code.  Simbi was the one who worked it out, though.  It's a very old parseltongue dialect, so it took the three of us some time to decipher it.  The whole chapter is about the Dark Mark.”

The other three gasped, and stared in horror as Harry pushed the open book over to them.  There, as the bottom of the page, was a perfectly drawn image of a grinning skull, a snake protruding from its mouth.

“ Once I could read it, the chapter proved to be really interesting.  I found out why Voldemort uses it on his followers.  Apparently there's a really old form of magic that's contained in the mark, binding the one receiving it to the one creating it.  It allows the followers to be summoned, as sensations such as pain can be sent through it by the caster.  The most interesting feature, though, is that people with the Dark Mark can't harm the one who put it there in any way.  If a Death Eater were to cast the Cruciatus curse on Voldemort, the pain would come back at them, amplified.  If they were to hit him with the Killing curse, then it would be reflected and kill them instead.  It means that Voldemort can kill his followers, but they cannot kill him.  It's the perfect form of enslavement.  It's given me an idea for a new project.  If I can figure out how the Mark is created, I might be able to break the connection.  That way, any spies Dumbledore has in his ranks can have the Marks removed once Voldemort is defeated.”

“ That's one hell of a project, Harry,” Ron told his best friend.

“ I know, but I think it's worth looking in to.”


Platform 9 ¾ was packed with students and their families milling around everywhere.  As the whole school had to leave, it was busier than it would normally be at the Christmas holidays.  The group had managed to get split up about ten minutes earlier, which when you considered how many people were there, was not a good thing.  When they had been saying goodbye to Robert and his family, Minh had wandered off.  The elf had been hyperactive since the train.  She had never travelled by train before, and that coupled with the fact that she had never been to the Muggle world had made her somewhat giddy.  Now she was lost, and the rest of the group had had to split up to find her.  Now all five of them were missing.  

Eventually, Harry decided that the only sensible thing to do would be to head for the exit on to Platform 10 and wait there for the others to turn up.  After all, he thought, they have to come out this way eventually.  When he got there, he was relieved to see that Hermione had had the same idea.  It didn't take too long for Ron and Ginny to appear either, Minh trailing behind them sheepishly.  

“ There you are,” Hermione exclaimed, “ We were starting to get worried.  I know the crowds are starting to clear, but it's still dangerous.  We can't forget the fact that there's a Dark Lord running around trying to kill people, especially ones that humiliated him in battle…”

“ Oh, stop worrying, `Mione.  He can't do much to us anyway.  And if he did show up, we'd sic Harry on him!”


Before Hermione had chance to go off on one of her rants, Eustace popped up behind the group, two people following behind him.

“ There you all are!  We've been looking everywhere for you.  Everyone, these are my parents, Agnes and Charles Potter.  Mum, Dad, these are my friends Harry Evans, Ron and Ginny Weston, Hermione Granger and Minh-Minh-Lama.”

“ It's nice to meet you all,” Agnes said, holding her hand out to each of them.  Once all of the greetings had been exchanged, the group headed out of Kings Cross to the underground station.

Minh found the trip very interesting, as she was finally getting to see the Muggle side of the human world.  Harry was enjoying himself as well, as he had only been on the underground a couple of times before.  To all of the time travellers it seemed strange to see Muggles in dreary clothes hurrying around, gas masks in boxes at their sides.  They all seemed to be wearing looks of perpetual anxiousness on their faces.  It was rather disconcerting to watch.  Eventually, they reached their stop and headed out into the crowded streets.  It wasn't long before they were climbing the steps of a large town house, big enough to fit twice their number.  

“ Welcome to our home, everyone,” Agnes exclaimed as the door was pulled open by a butler.  

The butler surprised the time travellers.  They had been expecting an old wizarding family to have house elves.  Hermione was relieved, but couldn't help but ask about it.

“ Mr. Potter…”

“ Charles, please.”

“ …Charles, why aren't there any house elves?”

“ We prefer not to have house elves.  We don't believe it's right to enslave a whole race, and when we freed the ones we had, they were devastated.  I believe they live at Hogwarts now…All of our servants are paid squibs, and we like it that way.”

Hermione was pleased to find someone else interested in house elf rights and the pair were soon engaged in an animated conversation on the topic.  Meanwhile, Mrs. Potter was showing everyone to their rooms.  They were all delighted when they saw the rooms prepared for them.  Each was done out in a different colour, with a large four poster bed and an en suite bathroom.  The group soon got settled in and unpacked their clothes.  They had all left their trunks at the school, as they would only be away for two weeks.  All they had brought was a bag each, a few changes of Muggle clothes, and their wands.  After being left alone to settle in for a while, they were called down to dinner at six.  On his way downstairs, Harry couldn't help but think how nice it would be to get to know his great grandparents a bit.


The first few days were spent simply exploring some of Muggle London and playing games in the house.  Minh was having a wonderful time.  She found the Muggles absolutely fascinating, and wanted to spend as much time out of the house as possible.  However, whenever they went out they had to be careful not to be caught by the Muggle police.  Harry was going to take his invisibility cloak with him, but at the last minute Ginny had told him she had a feeling he would be better off leaving it at Hogwarts.  Knowing she was never wrong, he had done as she said, but couldn't find out why it was necessary.  He was due to find out on Christmas day.

It had started off rather fun.  The group had congregated in the living room around a large tree.  Presents had been neatly stacked under it, with several for each person.  The Potters had even bought a gift for each of their guests.  Among other things, Eustace had received a broom and a large supply of prank items.  Minh had been given several books, some about wizarding history, which fascinated her, and some about Muggles.  Hermione had been given a set of throwing knives, a style which she favoured.  Out of the group, Hermione had the most skill with martial arts, and she had taken to training with knives.  The set was made up of several knives, each matching but being given to her by different people.  Ginny received a hand crafted bow of an elven style, made by Harry, as he knew of her love of archery.  Harry had been given a comprehensive history of the Ravenclaw family, ending with Gallatea, the last with the Ravenclaw name.  Ron had found it in an owl order catalogue Robert had been looking through one day in the common room.  

Charles had shrunk everything as people had opened them, so that they could put them in their bags more easily.  Once everything was put away, they had a magnificent Christmas dinner.  Hermione and Harry felt a little guilty having all of this food, as they knew about the rationing the Muggles were suffering through.  It was too good to leave, though, and they all had seconds, and even thirds in Ron's case.

That evening they were all relaxing in the living room, blackout curtains closed and candles lit.  The older ones were taking turns to tell scary stories, both of wizarding and Muggle origins.  They were shocked out of their renditions, though, when a low hum could be heard in the background, and a wailing noise filled the air.  At first they ignored it, thinking it was nothing.  But as the noise started to get louder, accompanied by several loud thumps, they started to get worried.  They all turned towards Charles Potter, who had suddenly gone pale.

“ Oh, no.”

Just as he said it an enormous explosion shook the foundations as the entire front wall blew inwards.

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